Luck of the Irish

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With the approach of St. Patrick’s Day, it feels like the perfect time to discuss the “luck of the Irish” by way of sharing their traditions.

Curious, I looked up information about the origins of the phrase, “luck of the Irish”. Why, I wondered, are the Irish considered lucky?

I discovered the phrase does not come from Ireland but from America. During the gold and silver rush years in the latter half of the 19th century, many of the most well known successful miners claimed Irish descent. Over time, this association led to the  “luck of the Irish” expression.

Luck of the Irish title meme

Saint Patrick

Before sharing some of Ireland’s good luck traditions, you might wonder about Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration held on March 17, the traditional death date of the patron saint of Ireland. The day evolved into honoring Irish culture with parades, music, dances, drinking and the wearing of the green.

The first surprising fact is this one…Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born in Britain in 385. During his teen years, a group of Irish raiders kidnapped the youth and imprisoned him in Ireland. Patrick spent six years in captivity. During these lonely years Patrick turned to God for comfort and guidance. When he escaped captivity, Patrick walked 200 miles to the coast and returned via boat to Britain. In a dream, Patrick heard a voice, God’s voice he believed, telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

After 15 years of study, Patrick became an ordained priest and returned to Ireland. He ministered to Christians already living there and introduced Christianity to others. Ultimately, he became known as Ireland’s patron saint.

Luck of the Irish leprechaun
Luck of the Irish – my sister posing with a leprechaun in Dublin

Good Luck Traditions from Ireland

The Irish, like many other people, observe superstitions and luck traditions, some of them quite ancient. And they aren’t all good luck traditions. The Irish are careful to avoid bad luck as well.

Have you heard of these luck traditions?

Fairy Trees

When a Hawthorn tree grows alone in a field it’s called a fairy tree. The Irish consider it a portal between our world and the fairy world. They don’t cut these special trees down or harm them in any way, for continued good luck. It’s bad luck to cut a fairy tree down.

Luck of the Irish fairy tree
Luck of the Irish – a fairy tree

Dropping Cutlery on the Floor

Dropping a knife, fork or spoon on the floor foretells who will visit in the near future, depending on which utensil falls.

Drop a knife and expect a male visitor. When a fork hits the fork, look for a woman to stop by. And when a spoon falls to the floor, a child is sure to visit.

Luck of the Irish cutlery
Luck of the Irish – when cutlery falls

Itchy Nose

I grew up hearing that if my nose itched it meant company was coming. Although I have Irish ancestry, we didn’t get the expression quite right. In Ireland, an itchy nose means get ready for a fight!

To avoid a punch in the nose, slap the person next to you, lightly on the wrist. Some believe a light punch on the arm of the person nearest you forestalls a fight as well.

Itchy nose means a fight is coming
Luck of the Irish – itchy nose means a fight is coming

Itchy Palms and Money

Ireland has a second superstition involving itching. When the palms itch, money is coming…or going…depending on which palm is affected.

When the left palm itches, expect to receive money. And if the right palm is the itchy one, money flows from you to another.

Itchy palms and money
Luck of the Irish – itchy palms and money

Cheer When a Bird Poops on You

Similar to the Italian tradition, it’s good luck in Ireland when a bird poops on you. Consider yourself singled out and blessed with favor. I experienced such a blessing in Italy! Sadly, no bird pooped on me while in Ireland.

Luck of the Irish bird poop
Luck of the Irish – bird poop

The More Magpies the Better

Another bird plays a role in luck, in Ireland. They even have a rhyme for the number of magpies, or crows, that you see.

“One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.”

The Irish take the spotting of magpies very seriously.  Waving at or saluting a solitary magpie breaks the curse of sorrow. Otherwise, the more magpies you see, the luckier you are.

Luck of the Irish magpies
Luck of the Irish – spotting magpies or crows

Good Luck Coins

The Irish believe good luck arrives with the finding of a half penny. Although ha’ pennies went out of circulation in 1987, the good people of Ireland still consider it lucky to find a coin…any coin. Just don’t walk away and leave the coin behind. That’s an invitation for bad luck to follow you.

Find a coin it's good luck
Luck of the Irish – find a coin

Your Shirt’s on Wrong

An old Irish superstition involves a shirt. If you happen to put one on inside out…while dressing in the dark or dressing in a hurry…leave it that way. It’s good luck to wear your shirt with the wrong side out throughout the day. Don’t change it though to right side out. That’s unlucky as the bad luck overshadows the good.

Wear your shirt inside out
Luck of the Irish – wear your shirt inside out

Shoes Go On the Floor

Another old Irish superstition forbids the placing of new shoes on a table. You don’t even want to try it, to find out what happens. Just…don’t. Keep your shoes on the floor.

Keep your shoes on the floor.
Luck of the Irish – no shoes on the table

Irish Wedding Charm

When planning an Irish wedding, every household uses a Child of Prague statue. This statue of a young Jesus, dressed in flamboyant clothes, signals the desire for good weather.

The day before a wedding or other important event, the Child of Prague statue goes into the yard. Some place it under a bush while others bury it in the yard or even decapitate the statue. It signifies a divine request for good weather during the event.

Of course Amazon sells these statues. Click photo for more info.

Don’t Pick Up that Comb on the Ground

Beware picking up combs found on the ground. If it’s a coin, grab it. If it’s a comb, leave it alone.

A banshee is a mythical creature in Ireland. She’s a supernatural spirt that wails, screams and shrieks. A comb lying on the ground might belong to a banshee and you DO NOT want her to come looking for what belongs to her.

Don't pick up that comb
Luck of the Irish – don’t pick up that comb on the ground

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of Ireland’s luck superstitions. As you wear the green or chug a beer, keep these ancient traditions in mind. And if you are blessed someday with the good fortune of a trip to Ireland, enjoy that beautiful, green, richly cultured country. The Irish are some of the friendliest, most fun people I’ve met.

Do you have Irish ancestry? And are you familiar with these traditions?

Dublin Ireland
Girls UK trip. Our stop in Dublin.

Fun St Patrick’s Day finds from Amazon:

 


 

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Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin

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Dublin, Ireland is a beautiful, high energy city. Many areas of interest vie for the  attention of the adventure seeker, from Dublin Castle to St. Stephen’s Green to the Temple Bar Area’s pubs and shops. And by all means, explore those well known spots.

Then, check out several off the beaten path locations in and near the city. Less crowded and lesser known, these spots offer fun, beauty and history as well.

These are non touristy places to visit in Dublin.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin title meme

Off the Beaten Path

One of my favorite ways to really get to know a city is to wander streets, explore plazas and follow curiosity wherever it leads. Getting a bit…or a lot…lost can lead to unexpected surprises and delights.

To help you out in Dublin, wander to these places that the locals know about, but many tourists do not. And then see where curiosity leads after that.

Temple Bar Food Market

Located in the heart of Dublin, the Temple Bar Area is famous for its pubs and shops. The streets are crowded with locals and visitors, especially in the evenings. One must visit some of the pubs in Temple Bar. It’s a great way to connect with Dubliners and listen to fine music.

However, lesser known is the Temple Bar Food Market. Held every Saturday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, the market is a foodie paradise. It’s located in Meeting House Square, on Dublin’s South Side. The market offers fresh produce, meats, baked goods, artisanal cheeses, street food and hot bites. During the summer months there’s a night market as well, an alternative to the sometimes rowdy pubs. The night market offers stalls of arts and crafts created by local artisans.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin food market
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – Temple Bar Food Market

Iveagh Gardens

St. Stephen’s Green is the most well known, and popular, green space in Dublin. Reminiscent of Central Park in NYC, it’s worth a visit for its beauty and historical significance.

Not far away lies Iveagh Gardens, tucked away between Clonmel and Upper Hatch Streets near the National Concert Hall. Once a private park, this 300 year old secluded green space doesn’t draw the tourists. It’s a quiet, beautiful space to wander or hang out for an hour with its fountains, yew maze and rose garden. During the summer, the park hosts festivals and music performances, increasing the number of visitors. Otherwise, it feels like a secret garden.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin Iveagh Garden
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – Iveagh Gardens

Forty Foot

Does swimming in the cold, wild Irish Sea sound exciting? Located just outside of Dublin, and easily accessible by the city’s electronic transit system, Forty Foot is a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay. People have been swimming here, year around, for more than 250 years.

Up until the 1970s, Forty Foot was an exclusive gentlemen’s swimming club. During the women’s liberation movement, a group of female equal rights activists jumped into the sea, opening the area for women and children. All are welcome now. No matter the weather or season, locals believe that swimming in the frigid waters boosts health.

Many who literally take the plunge claim that swimming with locals at Forty Foot remains the most authentic experience they’ve ever had.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin Forty Foot
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – Forty Foot

Marsh’s Library

After checking out the Trinity College Library and its treasure, The Book of Kells, head to the quaint, quiet Marsh’s Library. Located in St. Patrick’s Close, next to the cathedral, this library claims the distinction of “first public library” in Ireland. The doors opened in 1707.

This well preserved library, of the late Renaissance – early Enlightenment period, boasts a collection of more than 25,000 books, some extremely rare, and 300 manuscripts. Marsh’s Library is one of the last 18th century buildings in Ireland still used for its original purpose. The library even uses social media. Visit their Instagram page, for daily photos and videos.

Of historical interest, some of the bookcases in the library contain bullet holes from the Easter Rising in 1916. And there are unique wire alcoves, or cages, built in response to book thefts in the late 18th century. Readers were locked into the cages to peruse the rare books.

Linger in this beautiful library. And know that you aren’t the only one lingering there. The ghost of the founder, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, reportedly haunts the building, rummaging through the shelves of books at night.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin Marsh's Library
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – Marsh’s Library

National Botanic Gardens

Located a little outside Dublin’s city center, the botanic gardens offer visitors a relaxing off the beaten path experience.

Enjoy the expansive lawns and the pond, explore the restored glasshouses, or stroll through the rose gardens, herbaceous borders and alpine yard. This botanical garden is home to hundreds of endangered plants from around the world. It even houses six plants that are now extinct in the wild, making them a rare sight indeed.

If you love the serenity of nature or need time to destress or unwind, check out this natural oasis and soak up the beauty and perhaps some sun.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin Botanic Garden
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – National Botanic Garden

Great South Wall

I saved one of the best non touristy places until last, the Great South Wall. Accessible from Pigeon House Road, the broad, walkable wall extends 4 kilometers into Dublin Bay. One can “walk on water”, experiencing the winds and waves on the march to the lighthouse at the end of the walkway.

Built more than 200 years ago, at the time of its completion the Great South Wall was the world’s longest sea wall. Today it remains one of the longest in Europe.

At the seaward end of the wall stands the red Poolbeg Lighthouse, built in 1820. It replaced an older lighthouse from the late 1700s.

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin Great South Wall
Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin – Great South Wall and Poolbeg Lighthouse

Dream of Travel

I am keenly aware that due to the continuing pandemic, international travel is severely restricted. However, as we all do our part to get through this time, we can dream of travel. We can plan and research. And, gratefully, we can revisit memories from past trips and experience them again.

I hope you’ll add Dublin to your travel list. It’s a magnificent city, rich in culture, art, literature and music. And it’s one of the most joyful cities that I’ve ever visited. I can’t wait to travel to Dublin again, and explore more of Ireland.

Have you visited any of these non touristy Dublin locations?

Non Touristy Places to Visit in Dublin red door
I love the colorful front doors in Dublin, like this red one.

Check out these finds from Amazon:

 


 

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